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Dhanesh Menon K – Gas and Oil tankers only.
Examiner: Captain. Simon J. Alletson
2nd October 2013 : 0900 – 1100 hrs , 1st Attempt -Pass
I had arrived early on that day around 0805. Please do not make that mistake as you are not allowed to enter until 20 minutes to oral examination time. After looking at all my documents (passport, CDC and COC) he asked me whether I had only been on Oil tankers. I replied that my experience was mainly on oil tankers, however the last one year was on Gas tankers (Q max and Q flex)
He said that for the purpose of the exam I would be on a British flagged gas tanker until stated otherwise. He specifically mentioned thrice that all answers had to be in the capacity of a Master’s and that as a Chief Mate there would be questions with correct and wrong answers, but as a Master it was not relevant whether it was right or wrong. (What I understood about the statement was that you really need to be confident about your stuff)
Questions as follows:
1. What kind of voyages those ships were engaged on and where were they trading. (He seemed very interested and therefore I gave him all that I knew about membrane gas cargo operations, their voyage and what kind of cargo operational procedures were followed on board. He also enquired how many persons were there on board. He enquired details about the vessel (year of built, engine propulsion etc.)When I replied, he asked why there were so many persons and enquired what kind of E/R was it, UMS or watch keeping.
2. What standing instructions would you find in your vessel’s C/E standing instructions to junior officers.( He wants to hear UMS procedures, all that is informed to bridge, kinds of critical jobs in the E/R where C/E will be present etc.)
3. What according to you are critical jobs that are performed in the engine room? (Mentioned scavenge space inspection, piston renewal, any job involving shore personnel etc.)
4. Upon taking over a vessel what will be the certificates that you check on board the vessel? (Went through all statutory and non statutory certificates)
5. As per MLC 2006, what would you as Master inspect on board the vessel? (MLC certificate, DMLC 2 posted along with inspection reports, inspections in the accommodation, water inspection as per MGN 397, stores, galley inspections and was keen on hearing separate chopping boards and storing of raw and cooked food. Specified about logging of the same in the official log book as objective evidence for an inspection)
6. As per SMS, functional requirements you need to motivate the crew, how will you go about motivating the crew? (I spoke in detail with vivid examples for a good 15 minutes) He was very impressed and I must say, as he mentioned after I stopped speaking, "that must be enough motivation fo rthe crew".
7. As a priority 1 vessel what can you expect when you call a Paris MOU port ? (Spoke about NIR and expanded inspection)
8. During the lifeboat drill as part of the expanded inspection, one of the boats is not lower able? Actions as Master? Whom all would you inform? (Was interested in knowing what my CAP would include)
9. Told me I was switched to a general cargo vessel and in a trans Atlantic passage when the duty officer reports that the vessel has started listing. (Firstly I altered the vessel to sheltered waters and went about asking C/O to check for list and loll; after which I tackled it like an emergency with heavy list. Later I was told hull had been breached. (went about with all the normal but he was looking for mainly W/T doors, starting ballast pumps looking for positive suction, listing and trimming the vessel and finally plugging the breach with a collision mat, also mentioned look for towage possibility and not salvage)
10. After vessel had been repaired and fine to sail he mentioned, I interrupted and asked whether the vessel was sea worthy. He said on signing Polish 2/E and 17 year old cadet, what all would you be looking for? (For 2/E he was looking for PPE training, SEA, 2 year old eye color vision certificate and 17 year old cadet he later wanted to know the working hours for young persons)
11. Ship Handling : Berth port side alongside , tide 3 knots from stern , breeze off shore (pressurized to berth, refused and later said would do it only if allowed to go starboard side alongside as I would snub the anchor turn around and stem the tide) Guys he really is looking forward to see your confidence on that subject. Later while coming alongside he wanted to see how you would tackle the breeze increasing to a strong wind.
12. Explain what is risk of collision? After explaining he said part 7 a) and 7 c) are contradictory. This is the part about if there is a doubt such risk shall be deemed to exist and assumptions shall not be based on scanty information. (He is looking for us to take action taking into account worst case scenario). Later was asked to explain rule 8 in own words.
13. Asked me what would you do if there was a TSS that was not adopted, what would you follow? Rule 10 was my answer.
14. ROR situations
a)TSS I was PDV with other PDV crossing from starboard,
b)next situation crossing from port,
c)then he put a fishing vessel without day shape starboard bow, a F/V stern, PDV starboard quarter and another PDV following the opposite lane. (Basically he wanted to see if I would go to port as per MGN 364) He asked me for which all vessels would 5 or more short and rapid blasts be sounded in a TSS.(went through about fishing, sailing vessel and vessels less than 20 metres)
d)Own vessel CBD, PDV crossing from starboard to port,
e)Own vessel CBD, PDV crossing from port to starboard,
f)Own vessel CBD, CDD crossing from port to starboard,
(Captain Simon looks for a thorough knowledge and sharp understanding in ROR. He does not particularly want you quote but to explain your understanding.)
15. Restricted Visibility:
Placed ship and put only 2 blips(you need to commence, continue and complete the plot. He asks you how to complete the plot and had basically given me a target on starboard quarter and another stationary target on port bow. He likes you to talk through your thought as after an action he will ask you why. Therefore it is easier to explain as you think.
16. Smarty Board – Asked me only 4 with day shapes, fog signals (trawler vessel with shooting nets, fishing vessel with outlying gear, aground vessel less than 50 meters, sailing vessel)
17. Buoyage – Special mark, Isolated Danger mark, Region B Starboard Hand Mark, Region B Preferred Channel to starboard , West Cardinal buoy( buoyed channel, move the buoys to either side) against direction of buoy
After that he said those words that brought an instant smile onto my face which was there until I left the room. “It is a pass” he said and what a great relief it was. Thus a very highly stressed 5-6 weeks came to an end.
Above mentioned were the questions I was asked, it is quite possible that I may have missed out a few and they might not be in the order they were asked. I was expecting many more questions on towage, salvage, compass etc.
Captain Simon is a thorough gentleman and wants to hear every answer completely, he will not interrupt you. He was prompting me once in a while but I must say he is very positive to correct answers and takes his time to explain the questions and readily reframes his questions.
My dear forthcoming fellow Masters candidates, the only key to the MCA Masters oral examination is absolute hard work. As far as you dedicate your time, you will make it. Once the hard work is done, you are mostly on fire in that exam room. Please learn to be optimally confident with your stuff and prepare non stereo type answers well before hand for standard questions. All you really need to do is attend classes with Mr. Vinil Gupta(he guides you perfectly in the right direction) and involve yourselves in endless group discussion on previous question paper questions. Mr. Murdo also helped us a lot with ship handling. At this point I must say I would have never made it without the support of my wife, her prayers and God’s blessings. My greatest thanks to Jayan, Vishal and Allan who all played a very pivotal role in the discussions that we had at collegelands.
All the best to GMA for their success in leaving a mark as a top notch maritime college in the UK.
Best of luck to all the forthcoming candidates.